Sperm Signaling Specificity: From Sperm Maturation to Oocyte Recognition

  • Maria João Freitas
  • Daniela Patrício
  • Margarida FardilhaEmail author


The sperm cell is unique in its function. It is the only human cell that must leave the body where it is produced and fulfills its goal in a different organism being, thus, a highly specialized cell. Sperm cells are produced in the testis, acquire motility during the epididymis journey and fertilize the oocyte in the female reproductive system. Moreover, since these cells are virtually transcriptionally silent, they rely exclusively on protein-protein interactions and post translational modifications to control signaling pathways. These sperm cell unique features are reflected in sperm-specific signaling. Several sperm-specific/enriched proteins are responsible for controlling sperm functions such as sperm motility and acrosome reaction. In this chapter, we describe the signaling events that characterize sperm motility and acrosome reaction as well as the unique proteins that control such events.



Adenylyl cyclase


Adenylyl cyclase 10


A-Kinase anchor protein 4


Protein kinase B


Adenosine triphosphate


Cation channel of sperm




Deoxyribonucleic acid


Gamma aminobutyric acid


Lactate glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase


Glycogen synthase kinase 3


Human Protein Atlas


Inositol trisphosphate


Lactate dehydrogenase


Low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 6


Nucleotide-gated channel


Outer acrosomal membrane


PDP kinase 2


Phosphoglycerate kinase type 1


Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase catalytic subunit


Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate


Phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5 trisphosphate


Phospholipase A2


Phospholipase C


1-phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate phosphodiesterase


Plasma membrane


Protein phosphatase methylesterase 1


Phosphoprotein phosphatase 1


Phosphoprotein phosphatase 1 catalytic subunit C2


Phosphoprotein phosphatase 1 regulatory subunit 11


Phosphoprotein phosphatase 1 regulatory subunit 2


PPP2CA pseudogene 3


Phosphoprotein phosphatase 1 regulatory subunit 7


Phosphoprotein phosphatase 2 catalytic subunit A


Purinergic receptors


cAMP-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit alpha


Protein kinase C


Post-translational modifications


Ryanodine receptors


Sarcoplasmic-endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase


SNAP Receptor


Store-operated channels


Testis-expressed protein 101


Voltage-dependent calcium channel


Zona pellucida



This work was financed by FEDER funds through the “Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização—COMPETE 2020” and by National Funds through the FCT—Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (PTDB/BBB-BQB/3804/2014). We are thankful to Institute for Biomedicine—iBiMED (UID/BIM/04501/2013, POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007628 and UID/BIM/04501/2019) for supporting this project. iBiMED is supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), Compete2020 and FEDER fund. This work was also supported by an individual grant from FCT of the Portuguese Ministry of Science and Higher Education to D.P. (SFRH/BD/137487/2018).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria João Freitas
    • 1
  • Daniela Patrício
    • 2
    • 3
  • Margarida Fardilha
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Protein Phosphorylation and Proteomics, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Cellular and Molecular MedicineKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory of Signal Transduction, Medical Sciences Department, iBiMED—Institute for Research in BiomedicineUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry, CICECO, Aveiro Institute of MaterialsUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal

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